Day 5: “…AND WITH THIS RING, I WEED YOU”
Even though I only got three hours of sleep, I had no trouble waking up before the sunrise. Julie was still sound asleep so I went ahead and got the camera to start shooting photos – knowing we were getting good light.
The skies were kind of puzzling as it looked both menacing and hopeful. As I looked east, I could see the imminent orange glow about to come over the horizon. However, it was a little dark to the west with menacing-looking dark clouds. I sure hope Giorgio wasn’t on target with his weather interpretation, I thought.
And so there I stood on the terrace, waiting for the sun to come up. It wasn’t long before I witnessed one of the most scenic sunrises ever – and I’ve seen my share of them as I tend to be an early bird.
It was mesmerizing to see how the early morning sun painted the skies and the clouds orange. I could see the contours on the land surrounding Mercury Bay. I could also still see the few lights where Whitianga stood.
By the time I was done with my morning session, I went back into the lodge to start the day.
I had thought it was bad luck to see your bride the day of the wedding before the actual ceremony, but Julie – who was wide awake by now – only cared that I didn’t see her in the dress beforehand. So with that out of the way, she had to meet her makeup and hair people. I would take her into town and leave her alone until she was done a couple hours later.
…so that meant I had to run some errands…
I had spent most of the morning picking up boxes of floral arrangements as well as the wedding cake. Fearful of messing things up, I didn’t think I had ever driven slower nor with more caution in my life! I also made sure the table settings were finalized as well as choreographing the first dance in my head so I’d know what to do. Interspersed with these errands, I got to meet Giorgio and Margherita’s kids and Giorgio’s mother. I also got a brief Italian and French lesson from Margherita (who also knew French) and Giorgio.
It got put to use when the mother saw the place settings on the table and she said to me, “Bella!”
And in my newly learned Italian, I said back to her, “Molte Grazie!”
Back in town at my parents’ room, people were in a jolly mood. No one had gotten ready yet, but they were about to. Meanwhile, I had gotten dressed, but the increasing heat of the day kind of made things a little uncomfortable in the tux.
Despite what I had seen earlier in the day, the weather was partly cloudy and looked encouraging. When the sun was out, it was really bright and warm. For Julie’s sake, I kept my fingers crossed for the rain to stay away on this day.
Finally it was 3pm. The whole group started making their way to the Villa Toscana Lodge. King and Julie’s mom were already there. Also there before us were the celebrants David and Stephanie, the videographer Jan Polak, the musicians Sasha and Natarani of Heartstrings, and the photographer Susanna Burton along with her nephew Elliott.
VTL certainly had a totally different feel to it. With all these people around, it started to feel more like a wedding, but it still felt kind of weird. I was used to showing up to other peoples’ weddings, but I had trouble adjusting to my current role as the groom.
Anyhow, people mingled. Margherita and Giorgio were working hard in the kitchen while some of their assistants brought out the incredible homemade Italian h’ordeuvres. I don’t think I ever had Italian food that came close to being this good!
Sasha and Natarani played live classical music with their string instruments. Susanna, Elliot, and Jan were busy doing their thing. The parents had no trouble mingling. I was pretty much keeping busy just talking to everyone.
The skies started to darken as clouds came overhead. I was very worried about the skies dumping rain on us. Still, there was nothing we could do, but I couldn’t help but worry for Julie…
Then, 4pm came around and everyone took their places. I stood on the terrace waiting for Julie as she was escorted by her mom. Nicole was trailing both of them to make sure Julie’s dress didn’t get caught in the steps nor the foliage of the garden they walked through.
And so the cermony started. Now all the attention was focused on Julie, the celebrant, and the onlookers. The weather was no longer on our minds as we looked into each other about to exchange our vows.
Seeing the people most dear to us in one place gathered in this one moment (except for those who couldn’t make it out this way), I started to feel overwhelmed with emotion. All of the sudden, time stood still and the moment hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t fight back the tears and even Auntie Amy had to bring me tissue during the ceremony in a bit of a comic moment.
Julie, on the other hand, was tough as nails. She didn’t cry at all and it must’ve been quite a role reversal for those who witnessed the event.
Once I gathered myself somewhat, we were able to continue with the exchange of our vows and our rings. Julie had to repeat after the celebrant first – line by line. Then, she put the wedding ring on my finger.
At first this struck me as strange. What did a weed have to do with the wedding?
Then I quickly realized I misinterpreted the Kiwi accent.
I quickly interjected saying, “Oh, I wed you! Sorry! Sorry!”
Everyone busted out laughing. It certainly was the comic relief necessary to break up the otherwise emotional moment.
And with that Julie and I kissed. Then rose petals were tossed in our direction as the destination wedding ceremony was about to end and more homemade authentic Italian h’ordeuvres were served.
Next came the first dance. It was the usual box-step dance that we had practiced and rehearsed in the weeks prior to this day. We moved to the classical Louis Armstrong tune of “What A Wonderful World.” I know millions of people have danced to this before us, but hey, it worked.
After some initial socializing with everyone again (including Giorgio and Margherita) along with more photographs, it wasn’t long before Susanna and Jan took Julie and I to Simpson’s Beach. The skies had mercy on us and didn’t rain. Even some sliver of the late afternoon sun broke through some of the threatening cloud cover.
There were a couple of moments where the photographer and videographer seemed to get in each other’s way, but in the end, it worked out.
Back to the VTL we went. By the time we arrived, it was time to sit at the dinner table. In addition to the friends and family who were there, we were also joined by Susanna, Elliot, Jan, Sasha, and Natarani.
We really had to pace ourselves as the quantity of food overwhelmed us. The main course was Vitello Tonnato with Nizza capsicum Ratatouille. There were lots of other dishes I had never seen before so both Julie and I knew this was a taste of what real Italian food was like. All of this was complemented with the rare wines that Giorgio brought up from his cellar.
While everyone was having a good time, auntie Amy sang to all of us. That was certainly one of those spontaneous moments that stays with you forever.
Then, we had the wedding cake. It was a bit sweet and we had to make room for it after all the food we had eaten up to this point. Nonetheless, it was a great way to cap off a most memorable day. When it got late and people had to head back to their accommodations (Jan actually drove that evening back to Auckland!), we exchanged pleasantries and happily bid our farewells.
And so ended a destination wedding to remember. Julie and I unwound from a tiring day in the outdoor spa. Giorgio and Margherita left us alone as they went to bed.
In our relieved state, it was 2am when we finally went to sleep – in the other bedroom right across from the one we had spent the night before.
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